Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(44,397 posts)
Fri Jan 6, 2012, 05:02 PM Jan 2012

The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See Made by one guy in Oregon

The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See
Made by one guy in Oregon.

American mapmaking’s most prestigious honor is the “Best of Show” award at the annual competition of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society. The five most recent winners were all maps designed by large, well-known institutions: National Geographic (three times), the Central Intelligence Agency Cartography Center, and the U.S. Census Bureau. But earlier this year, the 38th annual Best of Show award went to a map created by Imus Geographics—which is basically one dude named David Imus working in a farmhouse outside Eugene, Ore.


According to independent cartographers I spoke with, the big mapmaking corporations of the world employ type-positioning software, placing their map labels (names of cities, rivers, etc.) according to an algorithm. For example, preferred placement for city labels is generally to the upper right of the dot that indicates location. But if this spot is already occupied—by the label for a river, say, or by a state boundary line—the city label might be shifted over a few millimeters. Sometimes a town might get deleted entirely in favor of a highway shield or a time zone marker. The result is a rough draft of label placement, still in need of human refinement. Post-computer editing decisions are frequently outsourced—sometimes to India, where teams of cheap workers will hunt for obvious errors and messy label overlaps. The overall goal is often a quick and dirty turnaround, with cost and speed trumping excellence and elegance.

By contrast, David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total. It would be prohibitively expensive just to outsource that much work. But Imus—a 35-year veteran of cartography who’s designed every kind of map for every kind of client—did it all by himself. He used a computer (not a pencil and paper), but absolutely nothing was left to computer-assisted happenstance. Imus spent eons tweaking label positions. Slaving over font types, kerning, letter thicknesses. Scrutinizing levels of blackness. It’s the kind of personal cartographic touch you might only find these days on the hand-illustrated ski-trail maps available at posh mountain resorts.


19 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See Made by one guy in Oregon (Original Post) Liberal_in_LA Jan 2012 OP
I would buy that map if I knew where to buy it. Major Hogwash Jan 2012 #1
You can order it from the mapmaker here: pinboy3niner Jan 2012 #2
Thanks. Liberal_in_LA Jan 2012 #4
And it is not expensive! csziggy Jan 2012 #8
Wow, that was fast. Major Hogwash Jan 2012 #10
I had just looked it up to order for myself, lol pinboy3niner Jan 2012 #11
Going now to go order it... NightTemplar Jan 2012 #16
same last name but this guy is smart and contributing something of value! Liberal_in_LA Jan 2012 #3
In the comments of course. TheMadMonk Jan 2012 #6
How gorgeous...congrats to him! CaliforniaPeggy Jan 2012 #5
Very nice. k&r n/t Laelth Jan 2012 #7
"Prohibitively expensive to outsource"? Fool Count Jan 2012 #9
At LAST! US Americans need MORE MAPS! bvar22 Jan 2012 #12
The better to find places like the Iraq, such as pinboy3niner Jan 2012 #15
K&R pamela Jan 2012 #13
Wow. BumRushDaShow Jan 2012 #14
ME LOVE MAPS!!! ME WANT!!! Odin2005 Jan 2012 #17
k & r surrealAmerican Jan 2012 #18
If any of you wants to try your hand at cartography nadinbrzezinski Jan 2012 #19

Major Hogwash

(17,656 posts)
1. I would buy that map if I knew where to buy it.
Fri Jan 6, 2012, 05:22 PM
Jan 2012

I wonder if David Imus is related to Don Imus.
I'm addicted to maps.
I've been reading maps ever since I was able to lay down on the floor and stare at them.


(34,149 posts)
8. And it is not expensive!
Fri Jan 6, 2012, 07:39 PM
Jan 2012

I'll have to buy at least one - hubby and I love maps and have a good number of them. This would be an excellent addition.



(49 posts)
16. Going now to go order it...
Sat Jan 7, 2012, 03:09 PM
Jan 2012

I love supporting people who produce a fine product. Achievement should have its perks.


Fool Count

(1,230 posts)
9. "Prohibitively expensive to outsource"?
Fri Jan 6, 2012, 07:45 PM
Jan 2012

He could have outsourced all that work to India and spend the freed-up time working as
a Walmart greeter - and still come out ahead.


(131,822 posts)
14. Wow.
Sat Jan 7, 2012, 12:28 PM
Jan 2012

Thank you for posting. I checked out some of the pdfs that he had about the map and it was sad to see that 60% of Americans can't even point out Ohio on a map.

The selling point was that he has an "Independence Hall" next to my home city and one of the close-ups in a document on his site showed "Hoover Dam" along the river that it dams (cool)!




(154,021 posts)
19. If any of you wants to try your hand at cartography
Sat Jan 7, 2012, 04:05 PM
Jan 2012

Campaign cartographer is a good windows based commercial product. Trust me, I am in awe at this gentleman. I dabble in it. These days it's for personal use, so at times paper and pencil is more than sufficient. And yes, you could produce that level of a map, but it is a lot of work.

Latest Discussions»General Discussion»The Greatest Paper Map of...